Family Engagement

Family engagement is a family-centered, strength-based approach to establishing and maintaining relationships with families and accomplishing change together. At the practice level, this includes setting goals, developing case plans, making joint decisions, and working with families to ensure their children's safety, permanency, and well-being. It encompasses the inclusion of children and youth (when age appropriate), as well as adult family members, in case planning and case activities, and also involves supporting the development of relationships between resource families and biological families. On an organizational or system level, family engagement means including families as key stakeholders and advisors in policy development, service design, and program and service evaluation.

Effective family empowerment is the act of engaging, involving, and lifting up the voice of families throughout the child welfare continuum–at the practice and system level. It promotes family buy-in; enhances the helping relationship; and promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families. When families feel they are a part of the process, they are more motivated to make needed changes. Family empowerment allows them to be the drivers of the decision-making process rather than being told what to do. When family buy-in is achieved, reunification rates are improved and overall family outcomes are better.